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Domestic Harmony

Domestic Harmony

The enquiries of the angels, visiting Abraham when he was recuperating from his circumcision, as to Sarah’s whereabouts may surprise us. However, Chazal (our Sages) explain that though they knew Sarah was at home, they wanted to impress Abraham with the fact that Sarah’s modesty was known to others, thus enhancing the harmony in the patriarchal home. Does a ninety year old couple, who have both experienced so much together, still need reminding of each other’s good qualities? It is clear that they did so, for “it’s never over till it’s over” and even Abraham and Sarah would still have to consciously invest in the harmony of their home.

It is in this setting that that Hashem (the Almighty) stresses upon us the supreme importance of shalom bayis, domestic harmony. He inaccurately quotes Sarah to Abraham; to prevent any ill feelings that may be caused as Sarah refers to her husband’s old age. The Sages concluded from this discrepancy that there are times the concern for harmonious respect between couples overrides the concern for integrity and honesty that we are always expected to pursue.

The timing of this lesson is of the essence. Abraham and Sarah are about to welcome into their lives a child they will be responsible for educating. This can best be accomplished in a peaceful harmonious setting infused with respect for each other and the stability that the harmony generates.

Abraham and Sarah make every effort to educate their child in their way of life and ideals, to ensure Isaac’s concerns would be the same as theirs – Hashem’s will. This could be best achieved in a peaceful and harmonious environment imbued with respect.

The sacrifice [inaccurate quotation of Sarah to Abraham] that Hashem made for continued peacefulness in Abraham and Sarah’s home should not be underestimated. Chazal see Hashem as defined by truth, and declare that His “seal” is truth. Truth and consistency are the foundation of our faith and are the basis of our allegiance to the Revelation and all the requirements and demands ensuing from it. It is perhaps not unlike the erasing of His name that He suffers for the sotah (aberrant) woman in an attempt to restore the trust of her husband. It follows that Hashem challenges husband and wife to be willing to let go of personal ambitions and aspirations to build a home that vibrates with the concern and respect for all its members. This home, built on the bonds of loving spouses, will provide the warmth to nurture another generation of “ovdei Hashem” (true worshipers).

Can domestic harmony be maintained if, to support it, personal principles are sacrificed? A beautiful frame will remain that seriously lacks the messages that we wish to communicate. Hashem at a higher level, is teaching us that shalom bayis is a goal and achievement that stands on its own, not only as a tool to create a stable setting for teaching Torah. That is why Hashem’s name and His truth can be bartered for a peaceful home.

Indeed bringing two disparate and often very different worlds together is the very essence of creation. The days of creation saw fire and water, land and water, physical and nonphysical all brought together in perfect harmony. We are duty bound to emulate Hashem’s ways and imitate His Work by ensuring harmony with those with whom we live.

 

 

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